Industry Canada

Industry Canada
Competition Bureau Canada

Competition Bureau Canada

December 13, 2007 11:16 ET

Attention Holiday Shoppers! What you Need to Know About Shipping Goods From the United States

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 13, 2007) - With the holidays approaching and the strength of the Canadian dollar, some shoppers are looking for bargains in the United States. Facing a snowy start to winter, many purchases are being made online or by telephone. These purchases may require the payment of Customs duties and taxes when entering Canada. This is where consumers sometimes encounter unplanned-for surprises: brokerage fees.

The Competition Bureau has received a number of complaints in recent weeks relating to brokerage fees.

What are brokerage fees?

Unlike duties and taxes, which are paid to the government, brokerage fees cover a service offered by postal services and couriers to process goods through Canadian customs. This service saves purchasers the trouble of doing this themselves.

What is the issue?

Complaints concern the fact that consumers were unaware that such fees were to be charged when having their products shipped to Canada. The fees are often poorly disclosed on sellers' Web sites and the amounts can be substantial; for example, a purchase of just over $100 may result in nearly $30 in brokerage fees.

What can you do to avoid surprise brokerage fees?

- Ask sellers about any customs brokerage fees. If they appear uncertain, check with the service they use.

- If the seller allows you to arrange your own shipping, research the costs and choose accordingly. Customs brokerage fees can vary widely. The fees are often included in goods delivered by air.

Consumers who suspect they have been the victim of deceptive business practices or who want information on the application of the Competition Act should contact the Bureau's Information Centre at 1-800-348-5358, or visit the Web site at

The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency. We contribute to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.

Contact Information

  • Media enquiries:
    Competition Bureau
    Maureen McGrath
    General enquiries:
    Information Centre
    Toll free: 1-800-348-5358
    TDD (hearing impaired): 1-800-642-3844